Bucs blast way into Island final
“Pack the bags,” one happy mom said on her cell phone moments after the final whistle; “we’re going to the provincials.”
It was a great day, albeit a long day, for Oceanside’s lads of field lacrosse down at Parksville Community Park Sunday, as the hometown Buccaneers out-ran, out-checked, out-hit, and out-scored Pac Rim Bagattaway in their two game total points winner-take-all U14 Tier 2 Vancouver Island semifinal.
The ‘Bucs, comprised entirely of first year players, persevered in game one winning 10-9 in quadruple overtime, then rolled to a 13-8 win in game two to secure themselves a shot at the Island title and punch their ticket to the provincials.
“They played a good game — they’re a lot better now then they were at the start of the season, and we wish them the best of luck the rest of the way,” said Pac Rim coach Paul Cullen.
Asked what the difference on the day was, Cullen said “they ran harder than we did ... way harder.”
“That felt awesome ... we’re stoked for the provincials,” said Riley Kuxhaul, the ‘Bucs little goalie.
At 5’2”, Riley isn’t the biggest player on the field, but he’s fearless in net and has clearly taken to the position. As the story goes, a few other players tried the position at the start of the season, “but nobody liked it so I said I’d do it. I play goalie in box lacrosse and in soccer, so ... I like it.”
In game one, birthday boy Spencer Land struck for a hat trick in the first 15 minutes, and the ‘Bucs led 3-1 after the first quarter. Oceanside took a 4-3 lead into the half. Pac Rim battled back to make it 6-6 after three, and both sides traded goals in the fourth for an 8-8 tie after regulation time, setting the stage for overtime, which started with two, four minute quarters.
The ‘Bucs led 9-8 after the first quarter, and Pac Rim scored late in the second to tie it up 9-9 and force sudden death. Nobody scored in the third OT in which the ‘Bucs carried the play. Liam Lowrey broke in alone and buried the winner with about two minutes remaining in the fourth OT to nail down the win.
Land finished with a game-high four goals on his 14th birthday. Jory Clermont chipped in with a pair including one in OT. Shamus Koughan, Chase Anderson, Eric Johnston and Lowrey added singles.
That game took two hours to play, and left the players with only a one hour break to power back some food before they had to return to the field and do it all over again.
“It’s brutal,” coach Tim Clermont chuckled after. “There’s no other sport I can think of where you’re playing back to back like that, I mean from 11:30 to 4 they played about three hours (of field lacrosse). I attribute the win to our guys being in better shape.”
Game two was tied 3-3 after the first period. Pac Rim went up 6-3 in the second, but the ‘Bucs struck for two quick ones to cut it to 6-5 at the break.
Oceanside came out hard to start the second half and scored the next four goals to go up 9-6. Pac Rim rallied for two goals to cut it to 9-8 after three quarters.
Oceanside clicked early in the fourth to go up 10-8 and were hanging on when one of the ‘Bucs took a two minute slashing penalty. Pac Rim was pressing on the power-play when an Oceanside player noticed one of the Bagattaway’s sticks didn’t look right. The Buccaneers called for a stick check, and it turned out the pocket was too deep and the shaft too short, which resulted in a three minute penalty.
“That was huge,” said Clermont. “That was the nail in the coffin because we ended up getting the ball back on the power-play and we scored three more goals.”
Quin Donaldson led the charge with a hat trick in the second half, along with Johnston who dialled up three as well. Lowrey chipped in with two goals, and Land, Clermont, Anderson Jake Zboyovsky, and Jordan Lavertu added singles.
Earning extra props from their coach were Zboyovsky “who set up half our goals today,” big stick Ian Whibley, who has never played any lacrosse before this year, and their goalie, pointing out “it was 10-8 (in game two) and they were trying to come back — they had a guy wide open and Riley comes way out of his net, creams the guy, and takes the ball away and goes for a big run downfield.”
Earlier in the game Riley stepped in front of a howitzer that hit him high on the chest and knocked the wind out of him — you could hear the ball hit him from the other end of the field. He went down in a heap and there was an injury time out, but he shook it off and continued playing.
“He took one for the team is what he did,” said Clermont. “He played outstanding, especially in the second game, he was the difference maker. There’s no other goalie that comes out and challenges like he does, and he’s going to give us a chance to win the championship along with the other warriors that played their hearts out today. I was very proud of all our guys today.”
The first year squad finished the regular season sitting second in the 5-team Tier 2 Island league at 8-4; Pac Rim were 7-3-2.
Sunday’s big win earns the U14 ‘Bucs a shot at the Island title Feb. 12 at UVic turf fields against the North Island Ravens in a one game showdown. The Ravens won two of their three regular season meetings, but the Bucs took the last one 9-8.
Both teams have earned a berth in the B.C.s Feb 24-27 on the artificial turf fields at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
IN OTHER NEWS
The U12 Buccaneers, who have also secured a berth in the B.C.s by virtue of finishing first in the league standings, had the bye last weekend and travel to UVic for their Island final that same day (Feb.12).